IT hiring fair offers early successes

Federal agencies are seeing an early yield from their participation in a first-of-its-kind governmentwide federal IT hiring fair in November.

employee data (kentoh/Shutterstock.com)

Federal agencies are seeing early returns from their participation in a first-of-its-kind governmentwide federal IT hiring fair in November 2017.

Organizers looked to convene as many skilled IT and cyber candidates for agencies to fill skills gaps in one place as possible, to reduce time-to-offer and to increase awareness of federal agency missions.

In total, over 200 hiring managers across 31 agencies made pitches to more than 1,800 job-seekers from 42 states. Agencies conducted more than 300 interviews and extended at least 50 tentative job offers within 30 days of the event, according to a  CIO Council blog post.

In the post, the council said expects the number of job offers to increase.

Jeff Neal, former chief human capital officer at the Department of Homeland Security and a 33-year veteran of the federal workforce, called the yield of the hiring fair "a good start."

In reference to the number of on-the-spot interviews, "it looks like they had one potential match for a job out of every six attendees, and roughly the same rate of hiring," said Neal. "That isn’t bad. As they do more events, they are likely to improve the processes and increase both the number of participants and the number of hires."

For the 500-odd cybersecurity and IT job vacancies they were looking to fill, agencies received more than 5,000 applications and requested more than 100 certificates of eligible candidates -- lists of applicants that have been screened and determined to be among the best qualified from which a hiring manager can make selections.

Plus, more than 200 participants attended the free, on-site training seminars on resume writing, interviewing and how to effectively navigate the USAJobs website.

Dan Blair, president and CEO emeritus of the National Academy of Public Administration, said "the large numbers attracted by the job fair demonstrate that federal jobs are sought after," but he cautioned, "the determining factor for success is not just the number of hires, but the quality of hires."

There was also a spike in traffic on the CIO Council’s website. According to the post, CIO.gov received a record 72,000 site visits during the periods before, during and immediately after the event.

Every participating agency reported being either “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the quality of candidates and the overall event. The price tag for renting out the building for two days comes in under $10,000, and the CIO Council said the event costs came in “under budget.”

Neal, currently senior vice president for the human resources consultancy ICF, said that events like this are valuable for hiring managers trying to fill critical talent gaps while adhering to the often-cumbersome hiring process. 

"Events like these can show hiring managers and HR staff that hiring can be faster, even within the constraints of the existing rules," he said. "Too often I hear people saying they want relief from the hiring process, yet they fail to take advantage of flexibilities they already have."

In its post, the CIO Council noted some key lessons learned from its first attempted governmentwide IT job fair -- specifically, the viability of hosting similar events in the future.

At the event in November, agency officials and job-seekers alike told FCW the job fair was worthwhile and expressed interest in similar ones in the future. 

Overall, “this event demonstrated the necessity of operating as a unified federal enterprise,” the post read. “The federal-wide hiring event was an effective and cost-efficient solution to attract diverse top talent to the public sector.”

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